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updated: 3/10/2013 11:25 PM

Let's face it, Blackhawks were due a couple stinkers

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  • The Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews (19) and Duncan Keith skate to the locker room with teammates after the Blackhawks' 6-5 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night at the United Center.

      The Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews (19) and Duncan Keith skate to the locker room with teammates after the Blackhawks' 6-5 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night at the United Center.
    Associated Press

 
 

When your team collects a point in 24 consecutive games to start the season, it's a little difficult for a coach to get the players' attention.

Well, now he has it.

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Joel Quenneville has some legitimate issues to deal with after the Blackhawks' second straight regulation defeat, a 6-5 embarrassment at the hands of the Oilers on Sunday night at the UC, following a 6-2 drubbing in Colorado two nights earlier.

It's the first time the Hawks have given up 6 goals in back-to-back games since March 1-2, 2007, more than six years ago.

"The first 20 minutes were unacceptable," said captain Jonathan Toews of the Hawks falling behind 4-0. "There have been some games the last two years when we don't show up and they make us pay for it."

After seven weeks of simply spectacular play, a letdown was likely, if not completely expected. The Hawks were playing every night with an unsustainable energy, not to mention just about every break imaginable, and there's just no way that was going to continue much longer.

"It was pretty intense there for a while," Quenneville said of the point streak. "There was a lot of emotion those last five or six games. It was very tough on the guys. They were pushing very hard and they were very meaningful games."

Having finally played a bad period in Colorado, where the opposition goalie played well and the breaks didn't go their way, the Hawks cashed it in Friday night.

"It seems like that's the only thing that anyone wanted to talk about was the streak," Toews said. "We didn't want to lose a game. We never do. But now we can stop talking about that and focus on the game at hand."

The Hawks carried the Colorado effort right into Sunday night, while playing for the seventh time in 11 days. Fatigue had not been much of an issue before Friday, because the Hawks had something to play for every night.

But after Sunday's game, it was clear that the streak and the schedule had taken a toll.

"It's never easy to play a schedule like that, but every team plays it and you can't blame that," said an exhausted Toews, who sat for a long time before taking off his skates. "We have to play smart, defensive hockey. We came out sluggish and flat in our own end, and we have to find a way to change that."

Suddenly, they've had bad goaltending two games in a row, the defense is running around a bit, the forwards aren't staying with their checks, and the other team's goalie -- shockingly -- is occasionally making saves.

When every bounce doesn't go your way, like it did for the Hawks for the longest time, times tend to get tough. But this is hardly a catastrophe.

What the Hawks were doing was unreasonable in so many ways, nearly across the board, and especially the goaltender save percentage, so some of this was due to even out, and that has happened for the very short span of two games.

This gives Quenneville an opportunity to coach again, and he and his staff will have the Hawks watching lots of video with three days off before their next game in Columbus on Thursday.

First, however, they will get a day off.

"We're just going to take a couple days and get away, gather some energy,'' Quenneville said. "When you're able to play the game when you feel good, your thought process is much more effective. When you're not thinking good, it slows you down."

Quenneville wrote down more on his pad of paper the last six periods than he did the first six weeks. The last two games, the Hawks have been caught watching quite a bit, losing puck and board battles and missing defensive assignments.

"We weren't sharp, and it was all preventable," Quenneville said. "We haven't seen much of that this year."

They didn't see much of it the last two periods Sunday, as the Hawks outscored the Oilers 5-2, only to lose by a goal.

"It's frustrating that we came up short," Toews said, "but we have only ourselves to blame for that."

Nothing that a little rest won't cure.

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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